Food Manufacture Excellence Awards

A chance to shine: Food Manufacture Excellence Awards entries open now

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Entries for next year's Food Manufacture Excellence Awards are open now
Entries for next year's Food Manufacture Excellence Awards are open now

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With the Food Manufacture Excellence Awards 2020 now open for entries, we look back on last year’s winners and what winning meant to them.

“We’re delighted to have been awarded the coveted title of Food Manufacture Company of the Year, with two other wins and one highly commended at the Food Manufacture Excellence Awards 2018. A big thank you to all the suppliers, customers and colleagues who’ve contributed to this amazing achievement.”

So said ABP UK after being named the overall champion, as well as Meat, Poultry & Seafood Manufacturing Company of the Year and Large Manufacturing Company of the Year at the food industry Oscars last year. The meat processing giant was also highly commended in the Training Award category.

A spokesman for the business said: “We are delighted to win such a prestigious award and to receive independent recognition for the many exciting initiatives taking place across all of our sites. These range from the introduction of our new DC Super Hero range with Warner Brothers – an industry first – to the significant progress we are making with our sustainability programme, where we are on track to reach our 2020 targets ahead of schedule.”

At a Big Top-themed extravaganza, hundreds of the industry’s leading lights flocked to London’s Hilton on Park Lane hotel last November, eager to see if they, or one of their peers, would claim trophies.

Now in their 19th year, these national awards have consistently recognised the top companies in their categories and fields for excellence, as well as establishing a benchmark for top-quality manufacturing prowess. Their importance is illustrated by the fact that existing and future customers of entrants, including the major supermarkets, watch the outcome like hawks for those that could offer a winning formula for their own endeavours.

Measure of manufacturing performance

Unlike so many product-based events, these awards measure outstanding levels of manufacturing performance, in areas such as reducing environmental impact, business development, training and exports.

The truly independent and rigorous judging process involves a panel of veterans with more than 100 years of collective hands-on experience in all stages of the food and drink supply chain.

Nor is it just about the awards night itself. Not only can the winners display their trophies for visitors to admire, but their achievement will put them on our editorial team’s radar and open the possibility for further magazine or web coverage. That’s in addition to videos posted on in the days following their win.

Entrants don’t have to be perfect to win, nor do they have to be investing vast sums of cash. But they do have to demonstrate genuine innovation, impressive achievements in the field of processing, a passion for excellence and an ability to go the extra mile to deliver what customers and, ultimately, consumers want.

For example, past winners have swayed the judges by resurrecting factories previously gutted by fire, dramatically increasing production capacity, launching significant product development programmes, successfully implementing major technology upgrades and executing major business turnaround strategies.

Awarding firms of all sizes

Over the years, the Food Manufacture Excellence Awards have also served to dramatically boost the fortunes of smaller businesses.

That’s why we will continue to judge entries in two streams: companies with turnovers of £10m or less and those with turnovers above that, to allow all to be treated fairly. Awards for Large and Small Company of the Year will feature again, in recognition of the small to medium-sized enterprises that make up the bulk of the industry and contribute so much to the UK economy.

That’s how Newtownards-based Mash Direct in Northern Ireland started out, growing out of a farm looking to diversify by putting its potato crops to good use in the form of chilled mashed potato dishes. Having launched a processing arm in 2003, the firm first began collecting accolades when it won two Northern Ireland Food & Drink Awards in 2005.

It initially came to the attention of the judges of the Food Manufacture Excellence Awards in 2008, when it was named Small Company of the Year. It scored several victories at subsequent Food Manufacture Excellence Awards nights, eventually scooping the overall Food Manufacture Company of the Year title in 2016. Over the past 16 years, it has also nailed contracts with retailers such as Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s, greatly expanded its product portfolio and boasted annual sales of £17m in full-year results to 28 February 2018.

Globally recognised brands

Last year, companies ranging from globally recognised brands such as PepsiCo and Coca-Cola European Partners, to Davison Canners and The Ice Co, secured recognition. This year, it could be the turn of your business to have its name in the spotlight.

As Rob Stephens, chief executive of long-time sponsor Systems Integration, puts it: “These are the awards that everyone wants to win; it’s the reason why we are excited to play our part in promoting excellence, and actively strive to support the industry in achieving it.”

Hosted by the Marriott Hotel in Grosvenor Square, London, on 13 February 2020, the theme of the next extravaganza will be Rock of Ages. So in addition to the drinks reception and a sumptuous three-course black-tie dinner, brace yourself for electric guitars and power ballads.

To enter the awards, go to and click on the Enter tag. For any entry questions, contact Rebecca George ​or call her on 01293 610422.

To join our growing list of sponsors, contact Louise Fenttiman​ or call her on 01293 846581.

FMEA 2020 Categories

Overall Awards

  • Food Manufacture​​ Company of the Year
  • Small Company of the Year
  • Large Company of the Year

Category Awards

  • Ambient Manufacturing Company of the Year
  • Bakery Manufacturing Company of the Year – sponsored by Dawn Foods ​                                    
  • Drinks Manufacturing Company of the Year – sponsored by Michael Page
  • Soft Drinks Manufacturing Company of the Year
  • Chilled & Fresh Manufacturing Company of the Year
  • Dairy Manufacturing Company of the Year – sponsored by Fowler Welch    ​                 
  • Frozen Foods Manufacturing Company of the Year
  • Ingredients Manufacturing Company of the Year
  • Meat, Poultry and Seafood Manufacturing Company of the Year – sponsored by Systems Integration

Industry Initiative Awards

  • Training Award
  • Supply Chain Partnership Award
  • Technology Partnership Award – sponsored by Menzies
  • Award for Export

People Awards

  • Site Team of the Year
  • Future Business Leader
  • Apprentice of the Year
  • 2019 Business Leader

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